Since returning from our holiday, the weather in the Valais has been gradually getting warmer and warmer (e.g. it’s nearly 32 degrees C/ 90 F in Sion today). So it was with this in mind, as well as the need to get a
bit lot fitter, that I’ve been out walking for the past week or so.
Last Thursday, I did what I would describe as a medium level walk (in both distance and actual height terms*) from Evolène up through Villa to the Mayens de Cotter then across to the tiny hamlet of Le Prélet and down to Les Haudères, via Le Tsaté and La Forclaz (VS).
*For the statisticians amongst you, ‘medium’ in this sense was 11.4k or 7 miles with a total ascent of 950m / 3,100 ft. The traverse from the Mayens de Cotter to Le Tsaté undulated between 2,000 and 2,200 metres, or 6,500 and 7,200 ft.
Some time ago now I discovered this fabulous website which covers all of the butterflies found in Switzerland. I then read that the website authors, Vincent and Michel Baudraz, have also produced a book, though only in French, which helps novices like me to identify the different species. It’s not foolproof of course, as you sometimes need to see the both the upperside and underside to get an absolute fix on which one it might be.
Anyway, I ordered a copy and it arrived just after I returned from holiday. So, to test it out, I went out along the path behind our chalet one evening last week to take a few photos. On returning, I was pleasantly surprised to find out how easy the book was to use* and that I had managed to photograph 9 different types of butterfly in just an hour and a half.
*Essentially the identification part of the book works by asking you if the butterfly conforms to certain broad criteria (white, yellow, blue, predominantly red or orange, etc) and depending upon your answer, you’re pointed to another section, which asks more detailed questions. This is repeated until you narrow it down to the exact butterfly. Each section is accompanied by wonderfully accurate drawings to help you identify which section to go to next. Towards the back of the book there are again beautifully detailed drawings of each one, showing both the male and female, upper and lower wings, to help you confirm your identification.
As you may know, I like to educate as well as entertain, so…
Transhumance – what is it? It’s a word that I’d certainly never come across in all my long years until my very learned friend, Pete, told me about it. Dictionary.com defines it as:
“the seasonal migration of livestock, and the people who tend them, between lowlands and adjacent mountains.”
Although a noun, it’s derived from the French verb transhumer – to shift ground, which itself is modelled on the Spanish, trashumar.
This activity takes place in our local villages twice a year, but I’ve never got involved until yesterday, when I accepted an open invitation from Marius of the Ferme de Clos Lombard to accompany his cows up to the meadows near Lac d’Arbey.
The cows spend most of the winter down in the valley inside their sheds, only coming out if and when the weather allows. So you can imagine their joy at spending the summer on the open fields high on the alpage (that’s the verdant area of open land between the valley and the high, rocky mountain peaks).
After setting off through the village and briefly along the road to Lannaz, the procession of cows and people took to the path up to the far side of Lac d’Arbey. About half way, there was a short pause for the cows, and some of the people I might add, to catch their breath. (I know how they feel after a winter of inactivity!) Two or three (cows that is) made bids for early freedom, but they were soon brought back into line by the helpful followers. And then finally, after a few more short breaks, we all arrived at the lake where not only the cows took to wading in…
I thought I’d finish this Corsican holiday series with a few other photos which didn’t make it into the main series of posts. I hope they’ve all given you a flavour of what Corsica is like.
You will also see below that when I get bored on a beach, I resort to the pastime of stone stacking, which I have to say is very therapeutic. My stacks (pics 26-30) certainly created a lot of interest for the people who were walking along the coastal path. It’s actually easier to do than it might look. You just need a bit of patience! Of course, mine are nowhere near as good as most rock balancers. Check out some of the videos online, but here is a link to a beginners guide that I found. Happy stacking! 😊
I need 6 months holiday. Two times per year!
After the blues skies and white beach of Saleccia, the following day couldn’t have been a bigger contrast, with dark brooding clouds and an unusual, black beach.
During our tour of Cap Corse, we had driven through Nonza late at night and didn’t have the time to stop. So we decided to take a trip back there to check out this interesting village, which is perched 100 metres above the sea.
We deliberately didn’t book any accommodation for the last few days of our holiday in case we found somewhere during our travels where we would like to stay. But that never came to pass, so we went back to Saint-Florent, which we’d enjoyed very much. We also had unfinished business there as we had not yet been to the acclaimed Saleccia beach, nor seen the village of Nonza during the day (see post tomorrow). As you can see from the pictures below, Saleccia is an amazing (kilometre long) beach, with perfect sand which gently shelves away into the clear, turquoise blue water. Absolutely perfect!
A relatively easy and shaded walk in the Porto area of around 4 miles, is to walk down the gorge between the villages of Evissa and Ota. The path drops down quite steeply initially, but then follows the line of the Spelunca river, crossing a couple of old bridges, before rising up to reach Ota. The only drawback is the route is linear, so Jude offered to drop me off and I added on a little extra by walking all the way back to Porto.
While walking to the Cap Rossu, we spotted a wonderfully white, sandy beach in the distance, so the following day we headed for there. In my post yesterday I mentioned that it was a scenic drive and that’s partly due to the sea views but mostly because the road passes through a UNESCO World Heritage site of rugged, red rocks, called Les Calanques de Piana (or Calanche di Piana in Corsican).
For the main part of our holiday we stayed in a self catering chalet in Porto, on the west coast of Corsica. From there it was a short and very scenic drive through the town of Piana, to do a medium* level walk to the top of Capu Rossu.
*In Corsican guide book speak, medium equates to a 10km or 6 mile round trip, with 500m (or 1,600 ft) of climbing.
For our second full day on Corsica we took a boat trip from St Florent to one of the many fabulous beaches at the northern end of the island with the intention of walking back. We had a choice of either Saleccia or Lotu beach, but the boat company only did return trips to Saleccia, so it had to be the nearer of the two, Lotu. And thankfully it was closer, as again the guidebook advice was a little optimistic on the walk timings, but we had an excellent walk nonetheless.